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TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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My doggy died from undisclosed complications from a typical

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My doggy died from undisclosed complications from a typical non-comlicated GDV surgery. We were not given a release or surgical procedure risk form to sign. The vet apologized for not informing us of the risks and their error in not having us sign the form. That's just the beginning. We were told he had to have immediate emergency surgery or would die within minutes to an hour. The vet got our approval for the charge and said she would do the surgery now. She decided to treat 4 non emergency animals and didn't do my dogs surgery until 3 hours after the authorization. He didn't look good after surgery but the tech assured me that it was normal. The doctor went into surgery right after my doggy's was over so she could not talk to us. We were assured he was fine and needed just rest. We left and 45 minutes later he had a heart attack and was revived immediately with CPR. The vet said she didn't know what happened. She said he also had mild aspiration pneumonia which she missed on the pre op xrays and took another post op xray when he had the heart attack. We were told a board certified radiologist would review the xrays prior to surgery but that didn't happen. The radiologist reviewed the xrays after the surgery and heart attack. We had 4 doctors who treated our doggy over the course of 3 days. They all said he had aspiration pneumonia and were trying to treat it and get us to sign a new estimate to treat the aspiration pneumonia. The doctor told us that if she would have caught the aspiration pneumonia prior to surgery she would have recommended putting him down. We received our doggy's records and found out that the radiologist reviewed the post op xrays at 6am. The radiologist said my doggy had atelectasis, a large volume of free peritoneal air, diffuse pneumonia, moderate aspiration pneumonia, and a megaesophagus. The post op blood work showed ALT (liver enzyme) had gone from 518 pre op to 3448 post op, he had hypoproteinemia, leukocystosis, left sided pneumothorax, reperfusion injury, etc. The pneumothoraz explains while he was in severe pain on his left side. The aelectasis was on his right side. Both of these are collapsed lungs with the pneumothorax being a result of the peritoneal air collapsing the lung. Both lungs were collapsed. He could not sit up. Not one doctor treated the above fatal diseases (esp. the free peritoneal air that was evident at 600am) and they never told us of the additional problems. They just wanted 3000.00 additional dollars to treat the aspiration pneumonia with antibiotics and supplemental oxygen which would have never ever ever benefited or cured him. We feel like they intentionally withheld the other non ordinary complications (did research online to find complications of GDV surgery) as they would have been liable to treat them surgically and wanted us to pay for treatment they knew would not heal him. Additionally he was on heavy narcotics and could not move. The barking bother the tech. One of the vets told us that if we tried to take him to UC Davis he would not survive transport. The tech was left to present the additional 3k dollar bill and said if we didn't like it leave and take him to UC Davis right after the vet said that if we moved him he would die. This same vet told me that dog's do not have feelings and that my dog doen't miss me if I am not there ( I was there until they kicked me out...not in the treatment area nonstop as they had treatments to perform on other animals). The initial vet who performed he surgery apologized for waiting so long to perform my doggy's surgery....she said she had a lot going on. There is so much more and we have it in black and white in the medical records they gave us. We feel like they deprived us of a humane way to euthanize our beloved puppy, that they intentionally and in unison withheld the other life threatening complications as a business decision, they attempted to extort money for treatments that would not work in an effort to disguise the real problems while knowing those other things would kill him before we knew what happened, and emotional blackmail by telling us he couldn't be moved or he would die and that if we didn't like it to leave. We are heartbroken obviously over what could be malpractice but devistated over what we believe are intentional acts that resulted in the devastating and agonizing death of our doggy. We don't know what to do so this never happens again....thank God our daughter was away at college when this happened. We do have a witness to all the conversations, etc.

I'm very sorry to hear about the death of your doggy. They are like part of the family and the loss is just the same.

It sounds to me that you have a case against the veterinarian for the following:

1) Veterinary Malpractice - the doctor did not perform the surgery correctly or performed non necessary surgeries which might have contributed to the dogs death.

2) Deceptive Trade Practices/Fraud - there sounds like there were some material misrepresentations of fact made by the veterinarian clinic to entice you into paying for expensive treatments which were not necessary or likely to work.

3) Gross Negligence - there sounds like there was a conscious indifference to the risk presented by not treating the dog immediately.

I'm not sure what you want to do at this point. You could probably get a lawyer to sue the Veterinarian and try to get the money back that was paid. You could likely also get punitive damages because of the conscious indifference and reckless behavior of the vet. However, it is unlikely that you are going to be able to recover a large amount on a case such as this. The law does not consider the pain and suffering of an animal as a recoverable amount. The emotional distress that the misrepresentations and gross negligence caused you is recoverable on the other hand.

Please let me know if this answers your questions or whether you need me to address another issue in connection with this matter.

Best Regards,
Zachary D. Norris
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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you so much for your timely and very informative response. The only additional material fact that could be added would be that on the way to the hospital the morning they called me they did extract some peritoneal air which immediately increased his oxygen by 33% (low 60s to mid 80's). I wondered when he died why he was shaved and I found out from the medical records they did this just a few minutes prior to euthanization and without telling me. If they would have corrected the peritoneal air at its onset he would have probably gained enough strength to have survived. With that added, you have given me an excellent outline that is manageable given the lengthy story line pertaining to this horrible incident. Thank you so much - money well spent! Have a wonderful day Mr. Norris.
I'm very sorry that this happened, it is sad to hear. I hope you are able to find someone to help you pursue your case, as this veterinarian should be held responsible.

Best Regards,
Zachary D. Norris
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks again Mr. Norris. I am going to begin looking now! I truly appreciate your sincere sympathy.